Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Questions (582)

Seán Fleming


582. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons who have been contacted and the number yet to be contacted in respect of the proposal to allow pensioners affected by the 2012 changes in rate bands to have their pension entitlement calculated on their total contributions basis; when all persons will be contacted; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16175/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Since late September 2018, my Department has been examining the social insurance records of approximately 90,000 pensioners, born on or after 1 September 1946, who have a reduced rate State pension contributory entitlement based on post Budget 2012 rate-bands.  These payments are being reviewed under a new Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to pension calculation which includes provision for homecaring periods.

Towards the end of 2018, around 80,000 letters were issued to inform pensioners that they were included in the review and explain the process to them.  They were notified that wherever possible, reviews will be processed based on information already held by the Department and that where additional information is required about gap periods in a person's social insurance record, a written request will issue.   To date, over 36,900 requests for information have issued.  

Reviews commenced from 13 February 2019, the day after I signed the necessary Regulations which, together with provisions in the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registrations Act 2018, allows the increased payments to be made.  As at 2 April 2019, 13,915 reviews have been completed and review outcomes issued.  The remaining 76,000 outcomes will issue as individual reviews are completed.  

Regardless of when a review is conducted, where an increase in payment is due, the person's rate of payment will be adjusted without delay and arrears issued backdated to 30 March 2018, or the person's 66th birthday if later.  Where a person's rate does not increase following a review, the person will continue to receive their existing rate of payment. 

Reviews will continue until all identified pensioners receive their review outcome. 

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.